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Race discrimination

The Equality Act 2010 provides protection against unlawful direct and indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation for the protected characteristic of 'race'.

Key points

  • ‘Race’ is defined as including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origins, or being a person of a particular racial group.
  • Direct discrimination occurs where a person is treated, or would be treated, less favourably ‘because of’ race compared with others in like-for-like circumstances.
  • Indirect race discrimination occurs when a provision, criterion or practice (PCP) puts an individual of a particular race at a particular disadvantage compared with people of a different race. An employer may be able to justify the PCP as a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.
  • An occupational requirement, where the nature or context of the work require a person to be of a particular race, can be a lawful exception to direct and indirect discrimination. 
  • Harassment occurs where unwanted conduct related to race violates a person’s dignity or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.
  • Victimisation occurs where a person is subjected to a detriment for carrying out a ‘protected act’ (for example, bringing a discrimination claim). 
  • Employers are liable for acts of discrimination, harassment and victimisation carried out by their employees ‘in the course of employment’.